Letters to a Young Novelist by Mario Vargas Llosa

I wanted to write to the famous authors to ask them for advice on how to be a true blue writer. Will you continue to write if no one responds? Very few authors get to become successful. The act of writing is the inherent reward for wanting to write. Writing has, to the novelist, be the best possible way of life. Vocation is not completely a choice at times. Inclination to the field is important as well, apart from vocation. If you have the inclination, then go for it. Authors are rebellious at heart. It needs to be a strong rejection of reality. People write because they imagine themselves as fictional characters in which reality failed to pan out the way they wanted it to. In the past, books were banned as they were deemed to go against the authority in question. Being an author is like having a tapeworm in your body. It will consume all your food and body that you take in. Your life is now dedicated into servitude. You must live to write. You need constant motivation, always aiming to surpass yourself.

The defining characteristic of the literary vocation may be that those who possess it experience the exercise of their craft as its own best reward, much superior to anything they might gain from the fruits of their labours. – Mario Vargas Llosa

If that’s what you choose, you will certainly have taken a very important step, though your future as a writer will still be far from assured. But the decision to commit yourself, to orient your life toward the achievement of your purposes, is already a way – the only possible way – of beginning to be a writer. – Mario Vargas Llosa

The literary vocation is not a hobby, a sport, a pleasant leisure-time activity. It is an all-encompassing, all-excluding occupation, an urgent priority, a freely chosen servitude that turns its victims into slaves. – Mario Vargas Llosa

Literature becomes a permanent preoccupation, something that takes up your entire existence, that overflows the hours you devote to writing and seeps into everything else you do, because the literary vocation feeds off the life of the writer just as the tapeworm feeds off the bodies it invades. – Mario Vargas Llosa

Where do authors get their inspiration from? Writing is like reverse professional stripping. You start off naked, but then you start to put on clothes as you write. An author doesn’t choose his themes, his themes choose him. There are usually events which shake your consciousness/subconsciousness which you feel must be written into stories. An example is Proust’s ‘In Search of Lost Time’. The writer’s responsibility is to convert the themes into literature. All writers have a hidden impulse to write. The more uncomfortable you are in the world, it helps to write. Accept the demons within you. Be authentic about it. Write the things that excite you and you will be more vibrant in your prose. There are no good or bad themes. It all depends on how they are positioned into words in a certain order.

All stories are rooted in the lives of those who write them; experience is the source from which fiction flows. That doesn’t mean, of course, that novels are always thinly disguised biographies of their authors; rather, that in every fiction, even the most freely imagined, it is possible to uncover a starting point, a secret node viscerally linked to the experiences of the writer. – Mario Vargas Llosa

There is something in their lives that make them wish passionately for a world different from the one they live in, a world that they are then compelled to construct of words and upon which they stamp, usually in code, their questioning of real life and their affirmation of that other reality which their selfishness or generosity spurs them to set up in place of the one they’re been allotted. – Mario Vargas Llosa

The novelist who doesn’t write about what deep down stimulates and inspires him and who coldly chooses subjects or themes in a rational manner because he believes that way he’ll have a better chance at success is inauthentic and most likely a bad novelist. – Mario Vargas Llosa

Form gives shape and substance. In great novels, content and form are closely interwined together. To persuade others, your novel must make use of personal experiences. It has to be freed from real life as well. The trick is to live a lie. Depict reality so well that the reader can imagine himself in that space. Fiction must aspire to independence. The next chapter will feature the importance of style in fiction.

Fiction should paint an autonomous reality. A style employed should be efficient. Even if you break grammar rules, it can still come across as great. Coherence and essentiality are the two keys. Some writing can be so excellent that it can mimic the human consciousness. Without coherence, the text won’t flow and makes it difficult to read. Essentiality means being able to feel close to the characters. Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s writing style is not intellectual but more sensual. You need to discover your own style and do not copy someone else’s. It is a process of discovery. Technique is also important.

Read constantly, because it is impossible to acquire a rich, full sense of language without reading plenty of good literature, and try as hard as you can, though this is not quite so easy, not to imitate the styles of the novelists you most admire and who first taught you to love literature. – Mario Vargas Llosa

Anyone who writes fiction needs to face the following challenges: ‘narrator’; ‘space’; ‘time’; ‘level of reality’. The narrator is not the author. The narrator only lives in the fictional world and nowhere else. Who will tell the story? Some narrators are like God and can see everything. There are hence three different types of spatial view. It is possible to switch from one form to another while the story unfolds. The story can also be told from various narrators in one book. Flaubert intentionally wanted the narrator to remain a mystery throughout his novels. For classical novels, the narrator seems to reveal himself more as compared to the romantic novels. In writing, every little detail counts towards the grand work.

A narrator-character, an omniscient narrator outside and separate from the story he tells, or an ambiguous narrator whose position is unclear. – Mario Vargas Llosa

Now, we will examine the importance of time. Time in the fiction setting must be invented. There are two kinds of time: chronological and psychological. Psychological time is subjective and it depends on what we are doing. In novels, psychological time is more applicable. An author can use many chapters to describe a period of time. You can use present, past or future tense when narrating the story. Fiction uses a temporal point of view. A novel usually uses more than 1 temporal view. In some stories, it is possible to go back in time to feature an old man who gradually gets younger as the story progresses. It is also possible to narrate from a different universe, where time is different. Ulysses covers just 24 hours in a man’s life. Form does not really exist. Form and content are inter-wined. There is no stopping time.

The relationship between the space and time plane the author occupies will affect the space and time in the author’s world. There are the ‘real’ and the ‘fantastic’ worlds. Those with we can relate from everyday experiences are known as ‘real’. The narrator can be on a different level of reality from the characters in the story. Good authors can take advantage of different levels of reality. Sometimes, authors uncover aspects of life or the human experience and it gives them a refreshing vision of life. In every novel, there are 3 types of views. 1) Spatial point of view; 2) temporal point of view and 3) level-of-reality point of view.

This is the great triumph of technical skill in novel writing: the achievement of invisibility; the ability to endow a story with color, drama, subtlety, beauty, and suggestive power so effectively that no reader even notices the story exists; under the spell of its craftsmanship, he feels that he is not reading but rather living a fiction that, for a while at least and as far as he is concerned, supplants life. – Mario Vargas Llosa

When the narrator shifts from ‘He’ to ‘I’, there is a change in spatial perspective. They should help increase persuasion for the novel. Temporal shifts are also possible and more likely to happen. It is possible for there to be change in realms, from ‘real’ to ‘fantasy’. An example would be ‘Moby Dick’. It is like a puzzle, where smaller and smaller identical parts nestled inside each other. Learn to fit stories inside stories. Each story can be subordinate to another.

The true subject of a novel involves shared human experience: the way people retreat into fantasy and fiction in order to enrich their lives, and the way fictions created in the mind are built on the little occurrences of daily life. Fiction is not life as it is lived but a different life, conjured out of the materials supplied by life; without fiction, real life would be a paler and drearier affair. – Mario Vargas Llosa

Hemingway often leaves significant silences in his stories. There is always a question mark over the central event of the story. He tells by keeping quiet. Silence will force the reader to keep guessing. Faulkner was also the expert at hidden information. Sometimes, the sum of an episode is more than its parts. It is not possible to isolate theme, style, order, points of view from one another. Criticism can be a useful guide as well. Forget about the importance of a structure to a novel. You just need to sit down and write.



Letters to a Young Contrarian by Christopher Hitchens

I was dispirited by book critics. It wasn’t self-pity that prompted me to write. I criticized Mother Teresa in my previous book. I also studied about George Orwell’s life.

Could I offer any advice to the young? I often gave talks and listened to the ambitions to the young.

How should a contrarian live? A dissident needs to earn his right to be one. There are other words used to describe them of course. They are ‘fanatic’, ‘troublemaker’, ‘misfit’ etc. It is more common to seek approval and security as compared to dissent. Humanity needs to thank dissidents as well. Emile Zola is an inspiring figure. He campaigned for justice alone. The court case was reopened. There is a saying in ancient Roman times – Fiat Justitia – ruat caelum ‘Do justice, and let the skies fall.’ Is social cohesion more important than justice? Zola despised the anti-semites. This later led to religious conflict. At that time, most people wished Dreyfus would be charged guilty. Many people at that time were infected with an anti-Semitic fury. Zola was controversial because he tried to defend the guilty man. It is rumoured that Zola was murdered. The tendency is for people to be the ‘team player’. I managed to interview many dissidents in various societies. Usually, they have a strong stand to take.

And there is no decent or charted way of making a living at it. It is something you are, and not something you do. – Christopher Hitchens

Rilke believed that art can be a religious activity and that poetry can be as exact as sculpture. Also, Rilke was suspicious of irony. For writing, Rilke recommends that you must feel not that you want to but that you have to. Another interesting approach is Rilke’s approach to Eros. To him, sex for the most part, was a liberating force. Kipling and Larkin have achieved success in poetry by being very radical. To Rilke, solitude must be welcomed. Rilke didn’t like Freud much.

Inconsistency and strife is part and parcel of life. It would idiotic to try and live in a place with a feeling of contentment and eternal bliss. It would be unattainable as well. Humans make progress by conflict and argument. Confrontation is often encouraged with opposition. The Greeks always believed in moderation and symmetry/balance. The Dalai Lama believed that the purpose of life was to seek happiness. Most of the religions can describe what hell is like better than they can describe Heaven. Humans always have the ability to think for themselves.

One should challenge irrationality and injustice. Most of us have a passive voice though. Learn from how people in the past dealt with opposition. Learn to challenge what is appealing. Be responsible for telling people what they do not wish to hear. If you want truth or justice, often it requires a struggle. Conflict and debate over ideas often lead to ideas and principles which produce clarity. Even a Utopia is dangerous. Learn to transform others. Do not be a perfectionists. Do not be fanatical or you will experience a burn out. It is important to have the skeptical mentality in you.

Is it important to have a devoted life? Even in a controlled state, you can try to life ‘as if’. ‘As if’ you were in a free society. This is known as the ‘Power of the Powerless’. During the war, there were movements for human rights and disarmament. Act ‘as if’ life were normal. An example would be how Rosa Parks sit in the bus at the end of hard day’s labour. Learn to cultivate some of the attitude. Collectively, you may be able to make a huge difference.

The Universe is absurd and one has a short life. Do not ask yourself what difference it will make. It is possible to alter human conduct and behavior, to a certain extent. ‘A truth that’s told with bad intent beats all the lies you can invent.’ Do not utter these to yourself as they do not spur action. Do not compromise on your decision.

The Principle of the Wedge is that you should not act justly now for fear of raising expectations that you may act still more justly in the future – expectations that you are afraid you will not have the courage to satisfy. – Christopher Hitchens

The Principle of the Dangerous Precedent is that you should not now do any admittedly right action for fear you, or your equally timid successors, should not have the courage to do right in some future case, which, ex hypothesi, is essentially different, but superficially resembles the present one. – Christopher Hitchens

The Principle of Unripe Time is that people should not do at the present moment what they think right at that moment, because the moment at which they think it right has not yet arrived. – Christopher Hitchens

Things are less complicated than they seem. In Cuba, there was a point where satirical portrayal of their leader, Castro, was not to be permitted. The hardest thing to see is what is in front of your nose. We are an adaptable species and this has allowed us to survive. I usually practice cognitive and emotional dissonance. Learn to question the Obvious.

You have to be sophisticated by experience before you are old enough to argue that, say, it might be wrong to launch a thermonuclear war but not wrong, indeed only prudent, to prepare the weaponry of extermination. – Christopher Hitchens

How to ward off atrophy and routine? Have this daily infusion of annoyance as it will keep you going. All religions are versions of the same untruth. Life is a sinister fairy tale. It would be horrible to give your life up to constant surveillance. Some people derive strength against adversity from their faith. However, a lot of them are delusional. You do not assume another person’s crime. The Old Testament believes in a one for an eye concept. The Gospels believe that those without sin should cast the first stone. Judaism does not proselytize. To the author, he believes that there is no such thing as intellectual liberty.

A religious belief is not sufficient for moral action. Religion does help you gather a following. Those who seek revolution etc are not considered dissentients. Do not be so easily trusted. Do your own thinking. What really matters about any individual is not what he thinks, but how he thinks. Religions that promise eternal happiness is false. Religion is man-made. Religion tends to group people up and be collectivistic. In the past, religion was used as a means of control. However, persecuting religion is not right as well. Despite this, it is might to question religion as it gives better clarity.

Religious superstition is ineradicable, at least for as long as we fear death and dear the darkness. – Christopher Hitchens

Some people can’t bear solitude, let alone the idea that the heavens are empty and that we do not even succeed in troubling their deafness with our bootless cries. To be an exile or outcast on a remote shore – many minds turn away in terror and seek any source of cosiness. – Christopher Hitchens

I do not bother about criticism from lovers. Criticism doesn’t sting me anymore. Many people in the past spoke for the voiceless and the unrepresented. Even in a stable party, it is useful to have disorder once in a while. One man plus a correct opinion outvotes a majority. Karl Marx often criticized religion.

Do not look for arguments from authority. Cultivate the use of pessimism. Pessimism can be an ally. When you are cornered, you will only 1 option. Learn to negotiate. I often interviewed people who were exiled from their countries. Our culture often emphasizes the power of heroes. However, this is difficult to emulate. The more fallible the individual, the more relatable one is.

Those who think for themselves will be the minority. People always have the need for belonging. Those who engage in opposition are often seen to be rebellious. Many of the past dissenters had to rely on their moral compass. Sometimes, your core assumptions might be misconceived. When people say ‘we’, ask yourself who they are referring to.

Joseph Heller knew how the need to belong, and the need for security, can make people accept lethal and stupid conditions, and then act as if they had imposed them on themselves. – Christopher Hitchens

Travel as much as you can. This will be an important part of your education. Traveling has narrowed my mind. We are all humans after all. This is encouraging news. Most people concern themselves with trivial differences. We all inhabit the prehistory of our race. Racists because miss the point of being human. University is retrograde. Humanism is present almost everywhere. Learn to narrate what you thought, not how you felt.

Intelligence and humour are linked. Laughter might be an unpleasant noise. However, humour has the ability to shock and to surprise too. Often, humour can be used as a survival technique. Some of the famous contrarians in the past employed the use of humor. There are reels and revolutionaries among us. One should not fear expressing humor. Caricature is a form of it. Sometimes, you will need to be boring too. You will be unlikely to land up in much trouble if you’re a contrarian.


How to Age by Anne Karpf

Humor is a way to articulate and manage anxiety. Most people suffer from a fear of ageing. From age 0 to 40, this is a process of immense change. Ageing is a time of stagnation? Is it a time of decline? Age has the ability to heighten our differences. Age doesn’t take away your personality traits. Ageing is not just going downhill and declining. It is still possible to retain information in your brain. Ageing can be enlarging and one shouldn’t be diminished. Try to live creatively. Ageing can be enriching if you can live well. As you age, the more you know and hence it might be easier to face life’s challenges. Learn to age with vitality. One still can be curious in old age. There is a stigma that old people are lonely and should be stigmatised. Ageing is indeed a lifelong process. Death is a final chapter of our story. You can still retain your zest for life as you age.

A long life signals that we’re privileged, either through genetic serendipity, affluence or sheer luck. Woody Allen insisted that he had nothing against growing older ‘since nobody had found a better way of not dying young. – Anne Karpf

The truth is that you age the moment you are born and not age once you past a certain age threshold. Especially for those in their twenties, ageing can be dreadful. Although you get the freedom to do what you want, you have to work for a living. At 25, we have the ability to have empathy and sympathise with others better. Youth is often extended to your 30s nowadays and children are more reliant on their parents for money and support. There is a need to re-think what ageing should be like. In the ‘curious case of Benjamin Button’, a man ages in reverse. You can’t go back against time and human existence is temporal. Our minds and relational capacities change over time as well. Parents love to see their children mature and develop. To age is to be blessed. The following examples will show you how others age gracefully. It is possible to retain your zest for life even in old age.

The idea that young people are indefatigable hedonists, forever in search of their next pleasure-fix, surgically attached to social media, utterly belies the fact that young people are more prone to wrestle with life’s meaning and purpose than older and often more cynical adults. – Anne Karpf

These qualities differ for each of us, but for most people they include finding enduring sources of meaning – in work, or through relationships, interests or making a social contribution; getting to know themselves; making genuine contact with people; and developing a capacity to love – whether people, ideas or experiences. These are essentially internal resources that can be cultivated and drawn upon throughout life. – Anne Karpf

Those who age best are those who travel lightest, who can jettison the prescriptive ideas they’re cleaved to at one stage of their lives when they find them ill-suited to another. – Anne Karpf

For to age is to live and to live is to age, and being anti-age is tantamount to being anti-life. – Anne Karpf

Must you look perfect all the time? There will be an ageing population in the future. Birth rates are falling in developed countries. Ageing must become a burden for the younger taxpayers. Not all old people should be perceived as being lonely. There is no need to focus on loneliness in old age excessively as the young may dread becoming old. Being frail is also one of the problems of ageing. Many artists in the past depicted ageing as the ruin of the body. One way to overcome this is to add humor. Cinema has to be blamed for seeing ageing in a negative light. Learn to put your abilities to good use. In order to age gracefully, one needs to remain vigilant and self-monitoring. There are no elixirs to combat ageing and one needs to face that fact. The anti-ageing market is very big. Ageing is not just a state of mind. There are many prejudices towards ageing in the market and through mass media. Those who have a positive perception of ageing tend to live longer than others. Research has also shown that older people become happier.

Each time we see an older person, we need to imagine them as our future self, and, rather than recoil from their wrinkles or infirmities, applaud their resilience. We need to re-humanize older people, to attribute to them the same rich internal world, set of passions and network of complex human relationships that we assume exist in younger people and in ourselves. – Anne Karpf

At some point or other, age resistance becomes frankly futile – you’ll either die or start to look old – but the energy you use to accept the fact of ageing but refuse its stereotypes will serve you well for the rest of your life. – Anne Karpf

Learn to exhibit resourcefulness. Time is not a thief. Learn to embrace it. You don’t need to get approval from others as you age. Learn to tolerate sadness and grief at any age. Some of the people you interview feel younger than they actually are. Ageing doesn’t cause you to lose vitality. Learn to be passionate. Passions did not diminish over time. The brain in mid-life can remain supple. The brain is like a muscle and it can be strengthened over time. Creativity is unrelated to ageing. Ageing can make one more creative. Learning should never stop at any age. Learn to put yourself first. Even in imminent death, one can find meaning in living. Young people are sometimes more focussed on making money. Pain can be modified and be replaced by optimism and love. When you have found your identity, it is easier to make better relationships with others.

Throughout the life cycle, change and continuity weave an intricate web. As we meet the new challenges, both physical and psychological, with which our lives confront us, so then we are changed, even as we remain the same. Old age is no different from the other stages of life in this regard. The changes are many and real; to deny them, as some do in an attempt to counter ageism, is folly. – Molly Andrews

If there’s a single preoccupation that drives people from midlife onwards, it’s this search for meaning in their lives; the midlife crisis – if indeed such a thing exists – could be said to be a crisis of meaning. It leads us to question how we’ve lived our lives so far – whether we’ve lived the way we thought we ought, rather than as we truly wished – and sometimes make radical changes. – Anne Karpf

Age conferred a degree of power for the Greeks as most of their rulers were old people. Some of the terms used to describe people can be discouraging indeed. This book features a number of examples of old people portrayed in movies and in the media. Do not see everyone as your rival. Even in Japan, the young feel burdened that they need to take care of the old. There is also the issue of intergenerational wealth gaps. Learn to ignore those reports that talk about the young. Although apartheid is no longer present, age-apartheid might be present. The problem is that some of the young do not have much contact with the elderly as well. If you don’t have to deal with old people, you will have the tendency to screen them out. Learn to integrate the ages. Learn to embrace people from different ages.

For women, beauty is associated with youthfulness. Women find it more difficult to re-marry once they become older. Majority of women also seem unhappy with the way they look. Some women turn to cosmetic surgery to make themselves look young. Young women are also concerned about ageing. Women change after menopause. There are even products for males to look young and good. Know yourself better and listen to yourself more. The ability to love and desire does not quell with age. It is possible to have a sexual relationship with someone much older. There is really no fixed template for ageing. You have to age your own way which you see fit. It is important to understand the prejudices that are associated with ageing in order to combat them.

Death is a taboo topic in recent times. To modern societies, death is seen as a medical failure. One way to overcome this is to think more frequently about your own mortality. Form the habit when you are young. There is something deeply humbling about this experience.

One must live as though one were dying – and we all are, of course – because then the priorities become clear. – May Sarton

See your life as a single entity. Try your best to connect with your future self. Learn to identify with older people. It is okay to feel weak when you are old. It is okay to ask for help when you need it. Mourning and gratitude must be cultivated. For old people, life can be good without excessive consumption. Some old people even volunteer their time to help others. Our souls need to sing.

Old age is a time of relinquishing – friends, old roles, even possessions that belonged to earlier stages of life. Yet at every stage of life some attachments need to be given up for others to develop, in order to move forward. – Anne Karpf

We may mock those forever praising ‘a nice cup of tea’, or who, when they go to bed at night, look back on their day in search of things to be grateful about. It may feel a little mechanical but, if practised regularly, learning to appreciate small gestures, tiny pieces of good fortune and, equally, the lack of bad things becomes a very valuable habit indeed. – Anne Karpf

Remember that life is always an adventure. Add new resources and qualities as you age. Growing old is a privilege. Ageing is a lifelong process.

Acknowledging death graces us with a sense of perspective: it reminds us that we have only a finite number of breaths; it makes us ask ourselves “How will I feel when I get to the end of my life having done/without having done this?” – Anne Karpf


Don’t blame me, It’s not my fault by Jimmy Liao (我的錯都是大人的錯)

  • If I become a desolate, disappointed and hurt kid, would you still be willing to love me?
  • I know that I haven’t been the perfect child, but you haven’t been perfect parents either. If we all forgive each other and strive hard, we will thrive.
  • Whether we are awake or asleep, we are sent from God. It’s just that the adults can’t see that.
  • Adults forget that they were once children as well. In their pockets, there used to be all kinds of weird creatures. In their brains, there used to be thoughts of colorful rainbows.
  • Adults always try to figure out a child’s inner world but without much success. A child doesn’t bother with matters of the heart and just lives life like it is.
  • Sometimes, adults are strange people. One moment, they wish that their children will be intelligent. The next moment, they wish that they would be authentic and childish in nature.
  • Children don’t understand why adults emphasize that they must learn to endure stress in their lives.
  • Adults always wish that their children can live their dreams, to be a delightful role model kid. However, such dreams often lead children feeling helpless.
  • They is a famous Chinese saying that those who can take hardship will emerge stronger and resolute. However, many adults don’t seem to have changed for the better after enduring hardship.
  • Children would rather get hurt by the deities than hear the sarcasm and scorn directed by adults at them.
  • Adults remark that their children’s future is full of endless possibilities, just like the open sky. Can it be that they both live under different skies?
  • Some parents wish that their children will win the race, but are oblivious at the struggles of them when they finally cross the finishing line.
  • A person’s fate is never decided by others.
  • The true measure of success isn’t in how much you possess, but in how much you are willing to let go.
  • Why must you decide to leave home if you’re eating and sleeping well?
  • Why can the wind gently rustle the leaves in the trees, but you can’t appreciate what I say?
  • It is difficult to imagine that every great being out there used to be a childish brat.
  • Why is the sky blue? Why is the water in the lake green? Why do the flowers bloom in spring? Why do the leaves fall in autumn? Why haven’t I discovered the answer to life as I age?
  • Adults always say to their young children: ‘Never give up on your dreams.’ But why are the adults the ones who usually give up on their dreams?
  • The best thing about this world is that every day is brand new and you leave the past behind.
  • Why are the elephant’s tusks worth so much in value even though they don’t have to brush it clean? Don’t remind me to brush my teeth in future.
  • Where are the adults? Why aren’t they coming to save us? They are currently having a meeting to analyze how to bring up the next generation of children to reach greater heights than before.
  • Adults think kids are like a tortoise who threads slowly. But don’t forget, the slow and steady tortoise is the one that wins the race.
  • Adults are not really observant folks and they tend to miss out the minor details.
  • Adults say that their children is like a mirror’s reflection of themselves. Whatever they say or do is a reflection of their upbringing. For children to be role models in future, parents have to set a good example. However, as a kid, I do not desire to be a role model. All I want is to be myself and not to be the reflection in the mirror of anyone else.
  • After a child shuts his eyes, he dreams and remains hopeful. When adults shut their eyes, they fall asleep and start drooling.
  • Adults have no right to throw away a child’s possessions. Anything he/she owns contains warm sentimental value.
  • Adults often do not understand the power of imagination exhibited by children.
  • When you find out that your child possesses special abilities, do not be alarmed. Do not be frightened. Learn to keep it a secret as you might have it as well.
  • Dear Papa and Mam, do understand that I truly love you. I don’t know why, but there are some things which I can’t share with you.
  • If you had two sweets in your pocket, would you share and give me one? If you had two precious stones in your pocket, would you share and give me one? If you had two stars in your pocket, would you share and give me one?
  • Is it possible for imagination to get exhausted? Will eternal happiness end? Will my dreams never surface again? I’m worried.
  • If humans only think about saving money, no one should have a child! It’s such a waste of resources. You need to spend money on food, use your time and wealth etc.
  • If adults never believe what kids say, then why do they have the right to tell us stories which they do not believe in the first place?
  • When I’m lonely, tell me where you are and at the same time, admit to me that you’re lonely because I’m lonely too.
  • When I love you, return the favour and love me as well. When I do not love you, please continue loving me and do not tease me.
  • No matter the difficulties, no matter how fraught with challenges the growing-up phase is, do promise me that I must grow up well. Thank you. That’s all I wanted to say.


Scott Adams quotes 26 to 50

  1. A person with a flexible schedule and average resources will be happier than a rich person who has everything except a flexible schedule.
  2. In my experience, any form of exercise that requires willpower is unsustainable. To stay fit in the long run you need to limit your exercise to whatever level doesn’t feel like work, just as kids do.
  3. It’s a cliché that who you know is helpful for success. What is less obvious is that you don’t need to know CEOs and billionaires. Sometimes you just need a friend who knows different things than you do. And you can always find one of those.
  4. The smartest system for discerning your best path to success involves trying lots of different things – sampling, if you will.
  5. Apparently humans are wired to take care of their own needs first, then family, tribe, country, and the world, roughly in that order.
  6. I learned by observation that people who pursued extraordinarily unlikely goals were overly optimistic, delusional at worst, and just plain stupid most of the time.
  7. In the exercise realm, running a marathon in under 4 hours is a goal, but exercising daily is a system. In business, making a million dollars is a goal, but being a social entrepreneur is a system.
  8. And since timing is often hard to get right unless you are psychic, it makes sense to try different things until you get the timing right by luck.
  9. Once all of my personal needs were met, my thoughts automatically turned to how I could make the world a better place…it just happened on its own.
  10. This book is another example of something that gets my energy up. I like to think that someone might read this collection of ideas and find a few thoughts that help. That possibility is tremendously motivating for me.
  11. Your attitude affects everything you do in your quest for success and happiness. A positive attitude is an important tool. It’s important to get it right.
  12. But my scientific observation is that people are born wired for certain preferences. Those preferences drive behavior, and that’s what can make a person willing to practice a skill.
  13. There’s a strong connection between what interests you and what you’re good at.
  14. Overcoming obstacles is normally an unavoidable part of the process. But you also need to know when to quit. Persistence is useful, but there’s no point in being an idiot about it.
  15. By any definition, what I’m doing is work, but because I can control the timing of it on this particular day, it doesn’t feel like work. I’ve transformed work into pleasure simply by having control over when I do it.
  16. I find it useful to daydream that the future will be better than today, by far. I like to imagine a future that is spectacular and breathtaking. Simply imagining a better future hacks your brain chemistry and provides you with the sensation of happiness today.
  17. If you’re unattractive – and this is my area of expertise – your conversation skills (with a stranger) will become especially important.
  18. In the long run, any system that depends on your willpower will fail. Or worse, some other part of your life will suffer as you focus your limited stockpile of willpower on fitness.
  19. I have to say the richness of the whole restaurant experience was totally worth the money. I was in a position to afford the losses without altering my lifestyle, so I don’t regret any of it.
  20. I wanted the product to be something that was easy to reproduce in unlimited quantities. I didn’t want to sell my time, at least not directly, because that model has an upward limit. I wanted to create, invent, write, or otherwise concoct something widely desired that would be easy to reproduce.
  21. Ideally, you want to manage your personal energy for the long term and the big picture. Having one more cocktail at midnight might be an energy boost at the time, but you pay for it double the next day.
  22. Don’t worry if your idea is a long shot. That’s not what matters right now. Today you want to daydream of your idea being a huge success so you can enjoy the feeling. Let your ideas for the future fuel your energy today. No matter what you want to do in life, higher energy will help you get there.
  23. A smarter approach is to think of learning as a system in which you continually expose yourself to new topics, primarily the ones you find interesting.
  24. Humor raises your energy, and that can reverberate into everything you do at school, at work, or in your personal life. The boost of energy will even make you more willing to exercise, and that will raise your overall energy even more.
  25. You need to control the order and timing of things to be happy. It’s important to look at happiness in terms of timing because timing is easier to control than resources.


Blinking Seconds by Jimmy Liao (1.2.3.木头人 by 几米)

  • Sometimes, I feel that time flies. Minute by minute, second by second, time flows by. I am powerless to stop it.
  • Even if I’m brought up by robots, I will always love you, Mommy.
  • You can tell that I would not be able to find the person I was looking for. I brought the wrong dog out, I wore the wrong glasses and the wrong cap. Strangely, there was the smell of barbeque meat emanating from the stove in my house. I forgot to switch off the stove flame. It was obvious that I didn’t want to find the person I was looking for.
  • Those who wear glasses often wear a fixated and strange expression on their faces. They hate the fact that they have to look through a transparent lens to view this difficult and troublesome world.
  • Finally, there was someone who sat at the grave and wrote beautiful poetry and gave the beautiful spirits comfort in death.
  • We are all used to tilting our head and glazing at the endless sky.
  • When I think about you, would there be any chance that you would be thinking about me as well?
  • We all need to try to keep close to the warm glow of the light and stay warm.
  • In a lifetime, would the number of right and wrong things you have done be similar in number?
  • When I’m under tribulations, should I work hard to preserve my dignity?
  • During times of sadness, why did all my friends coincidentally vanish and neglect me?
  • Finding someone who loves me and whom I love in return is like a romantic episode in a dream.
  • Am I brave than you? Or are you just weaker and shy? We all realize that we are not suited to be brave men.
  • Float away and travel yonder! Surely, one day you will be able to find someone who’s willing to understand you.
  • During happy moments, I momentarily experience moments of anxiety as well. Isn’t this the human experience?
  • Will the weather be better tomorrow? Can I go out to sea and play? The weather will still be very chilly. I must wear my mum’s knitted gloves and scarf.
  • Hang on tight! We are about to jump through the hole in the mountain and cross the mountain. We must be clear in our direction to land up in an invisible city.
  • Aliens do not have any need to occupy Earth. They own innumerable beautiful stars, of which causes them a headache.
  • I gaze into the distance. But do not ask me, what do I see?
  • Many small children have seen matches, but an even greater number of matches haven’t seen fire.
  • Will the Sun suddenly die, or will it slowly stop emitting light?
  • Humans are beautiful because they have the ability to dream.


Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke

Rilke passed away in 1926. The letters were considered part of his creative genius and he ranks among one of the very best poets out there. He offers very sound advice and displays modesty in the letters. He wrote to a young lieutenant in the Austrian army. Rilke wrote about maidenhood, solitude, death etc. The poem ‘Cornet’ is one of his most renowned works. Kappus wrote to him in 1903. Some of his poems are about God.

I was reading the ‘Poems by Rainer Maria Rilke’ in late 1902 in the Military Academy. Rilke was a quiet and solemn pupil. Later, he went to Prague to be home schooled as he wasn’t used to military life. It was then that I decided to write to him. After this, we corresponded very frequently for about 6 years. There are a total for 10 years. Rilke was indeed a great man.

Rilke commented on my poetry and said they had hidden tendencies to something personal. He didn’t want me to seek feedback from critics. Go near to nature. Say what you see and experience and avoid familiar forms. He wanted to use the things that surround me. Turn to your childhood. It must come from your own voice, from your heart. If you are not called to a poet, your life can be rich in other ways. There is no loss.

You are looking outwards, and of all things that is what you must now not do. Nobody can advise and help you, nobody. There is only one single means. Go inside yourself. – Rainer Maria Rilke

Discover the motive that bids you write; examine whether it sends its roots down to the deepest places of your heart, confess to yourself whether you would have to die if writing were denied you. – Rainer Maria Rilke

If your everyday life seems poor to you, do not accuse it; accuse yourself, tell yourself you are not poet enough to summon up its riches; since for the creator there is no poverty and no poor or unimportant place. – Rainer Maria Rilke

Try to raise that submerged sensations of that distant past; your personality will grow stronger, your solitude will extend itself and will become a twilit dwelling which the noise of others passes by in the distance. – Rainer Maria Rilke

Perhaps it will turn out that you are called to be an artist. Then take your fate upon yourself and bear it, its burden and its greatness, without ever asking for that reward which might come from without. – Rainer Maria Rilke

I was feeling under the weather recently. Seek the depth of things. Use irony to seize life when you are productive. The Bible and the books by Jens Peter Jacobsen mean a lot to me. Read and learn from them. Your love will be repaid if you love these books. Other than Jacobsen, do also read the works by Auguste Rodin.

I also recommend the book ‘Niels Lyhne’. They will overwhelm time and again, no matter how many times you read it. Let your feelings grow and cover yourself whole. Have deep patience and understand the meaning and power of creation. It is not about the length of time before you create something. Only the patient get rewarded. I will decide to give you some of my books. However, I will also provide a list of books for you to purchase at your own leisure.

Works of art are of an infinite solitariness, and nothing is less likely to bring us near to them than criticism. Only love can apprehend and hold them, and can be just towards them. – Rainer Maria Rilke

Let your judgments have their own quiet, undisturbed development, which must, like all progress, come from deep within, and cannot in any way be pressed or hurried. – Rainer Maria Rilke

Have love for insignificant things. Have patience for everything that is unresolved. Live the questions now. Appreciate the simple beauties in life. Ideally, this world should be a pleasant place where men and women work together in unity. Love your solitude. Trust your love and have confidence. Let your solitude guide you.

Do not search now for the answers which cannot be given you because you could not live them. It is a matter of living everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, one distant live right into the answer. – Rainer Maria Rilke

But it is the difficult that is enjoined upon us, almost everything serious is difficult, and everything is serious. If you only recognize that and contrive, yourself, out of your own disposition and nature, out of your experience and childhood and strength to achieve an entirely individual relationship to sex, then you need no longer fear to lose yourself and become unworthy of your best possession. – Rainer Maria Rilke

It is good that you are entering first of all upon a profession which makes you independent and places you on your own in every sense. Wait patiently to see whether your innermost life feels constrained by the form of this profession. – Rainer Maria Rilke

There is beauty everywhere.

Eternally living waters move along the old aqueducts into the great town and dance in the numerous squares over white stone bowls and display themselves in broad capricious basins and murmur by day and increase their murmuring in the night, which here is great and starry and soft with winds. – Rainer Maria Rilke

When solitude grows, it is painful. You will want to long for companionship. Do not use too much time explaining your attitude to others. If you are lonely, try to be near things. What you are experiencing now is now unique to your profession as a military officer. Have you lost God or have you not even possessed him yet? Take the sweetest of everything and build Him. You can experience Him in solitude. Be patient and do not resent. Be glad and comforted that things will be fine.

What is needed is, in the end, simply this: solitude, great inner solitude. Going into yourself and meeting no one for hours on end – that is what you must be able to attain. – Rainer Maria Rilke

…Why not proceed like a child to look upon them as something alien, from out of depth of your own world, out of the spaciousness of your own solitude, which is itself work and status and profession? – Rainer Maria Rilke

I will give you the original version of my sonnet which you copied. To love is also difficult. You have to learn how to love. This comes with experience. Do not let your peers dictate your life. Public pleasures are safe, but you need to avoid them and not be like anyone else. Love is not all romance and play. It is hard work. Treat it as an apprenticeship and learn to be better at it. We have to invent our own rules. There are no rules to follow. Learn to be yourself and dress the way you want to. Do not hide behind a mask and do things to impress others. Once uncovered, it might not do you much good. Rely on your inner work and recall the first time you were loved.

We know little, but that we must hold to the difficult is a certainty that will not leave us; it is good to be solitary, for solitude is difficult; the fact that a thing is difficult must be one more reason for our doing it. – Rainer Maria Rilke

Loving in the first instance is a sublime occasion for the individual to mature, to grow into something in himself, to become world for himself for another’s sake, it is a great exacting claim upon him, something that chooses him out and summons him to a distant goal. – Rainer Maria Rilke

Many young people, to be sure, who love falsely, that is simply surrendering, letting solitude go, feel the oppression of failure and want to make the situation in which they find themselves full of vitality and fruitful in their own personal fashion. – Rainer Maria Rilke

How should those who have already confounded themselves and are no longer bounded or separate, who therefore no longer possess anything individual, be able to find a way out of themselves, out of the depth of their already shattered solitude? – Rainer Maria Rilke

Have you changed even those you are no longer sorrowful? Is your character still the same? Have confidence in your sorrows and place emphasis on them. They will make you grow as a person. Sorrows are moments of tension. Be heedful when you are sad and contemplate how it might affect your character. Be more patient and open. When the new things enters you, you will embrace it and keep it close. We are all born solitary. Allow yourself to go on interesting adventures. Strive to live a full existence. Let things happen to you, but do not be too quick to conclude. All your sorrows make you a better person and you can learn from them. Experience the full range of humanity.

We must accept our existence as far as ever it is possible; everything, even the unheard of, must be possible there. That is fundamentally the only courage which is demanded of us: to be brave in the face of the strangest, most singular and most inexplicable things that can befall us. – Rainer Maria Rilke

But fear of the inexplicable has not only impoverished the existence of the solitary man, it has also circumscribed the relationships between human beings, as it were lifted them up from the river bed of infinite possibilities to a fallow spot on the bank, to which nothing happens. – Rainer Maria Rilke

You must think that something is happening upon you, that life has not forgotten you, that it holds you in its hand; it will not let you fall. Why do you want to exclude any disturbances, any pain, any melancholy from your life? – Rainer Maria Rilke

Do not think that the man who seeks to comfort you lives untroubled among the simple and quiet words which sometimes do you good. His life has much hardship and sadness and lags far behind you. – Rainer Maria Rilke

I doubt my letters can be of much help to you. Life is right at any point of time. Become aware. There is a splendor to both life and death.

Always the wish that you might be able to find patience enough in yourself to endure, and single-heartedness enough to believe; that you might win increasing trust in what is difficult, and in your solitude among other people. And for the rest, let life happen to you. Believe me: life is right, at all events. – Rainer Maria Rilke

All feelings are pure which gather you and lift you up; a feeling is impure which takes hold of only one side of your being and so distorts you. Everything that you could think in the light of your childhood is good. Everything which makes more of you than you have previously been in your best hours, is right. – Rainer Maria Rilke

I have indeed thought of you many times. I am glad to see your progress in life and can you live with an expressible existence now. Learn to appreciate art and understand that art is the only form of non-pretentious living.